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Employees of the County of Haldimand in Ontario have headed back to work following a stormy strike that lasted almost six weeks.

At one point, the mayor threatened to print the county’s entire contract offer in local newspapers. The main issue in dispute was wage harmonization following the amalgamation of a number of municipalities.

We could not continue to have workers making different rates of pay for doing the same job,” says Josie Marchesano, the president of CUPE 4700. “The employer has now agreed to use a job evaluation process to find solutions to the wage disparities. They have agreed to a deadline. The wage inequities should be solved within one year.”

Marchesano says the workers did come out of the strike with a better contract, including gains in sick leave, early retirement, hours of work and wages. Most employees will receive an 11 per cent wage increase over the term of the contract, which runs until December 2004.

But the members are still angry with the employer, she says. “More than a quarter of the workers voted against this contract…There is a lot of anger out there over the way the county tried to bargain through the media.”